‘These Kids Are So Anxious and Depressed They Can’t Do Anything for Themselves’

Jodi Mauricici, a seventh-grade health teacher in New York City works on Long Island. The pandemic has left many people without independence, and made them less resilient.

She says, “These children are so anxious and sad they can’t even do their own thing.”

The school’s suburban public school in response has provided even more assistance to students. It expanded an intervention program which was initially intended for those who scored poorly on standardized tests.

The class offered tutoring in English and math. However, the class evolved over the years from tutoring English and math to provide general assistance. According to school website, this class assists students in their developmental years by providing practical advice and powerful discussions that provide insight into how decisions affect future outcomes.

Maurici said that “the teachers are creating charts” in day-today practice. [for the kids]. For example, Johnny might have a chart that he gives every day. It will state, “This is due today in this class and this tomorrow in that class.”

The school used to have one such class for seventh-graders before COVID-19. The school now has three. “This is basically a way to have your mom come with you from school to school,” says Mauricici. Of course, this is not the real mother. However, it’s real moms or dads who register their kids for it.

Maurici is concerned for her middle school students’ helplessness and anxiety since a long time. In her 20-year teaching career, the problem became acute when a girl arrived late to school and didn’t get lunch. Maurici responded, “You can eat here. You can go to the cafeteria and get lunch. The girl replied: Do you want to be my friend?

This school is safe. This school is about one hour drive from Manhattan in quiet suburbs. Many of her students were not allowed out on their own, mainly because they fear stranger danger.

Maurici created The Let Grow Project as a free program sponsored by Let Grow. The project is a homework assignment designed to push students to become more independent—and parents to let them. The assignment teaches students: Make something fresh at home.. There have been many breakthroughs just by pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone. Kids did things like walk the dog, ride their bikes into town, even use a sharp knife—all for the first time.


Since the beginning of the pandemic the children are doing worse in school as they do at home. Masks are a major problem.

“We had a community activity this morning,” Maurici told us last week. It was 20 Questions. Two children are taken outside and given a word. They return inside and have to tell their teams the word. The masks helped the students to not be able to guess the words. “No one can hear!” Maurici was furious.

The students at home are also more passive. According to Maurici, “COVID-19 has made things worse.” When they lived with their parents they would do anything for them, even if it was not their desire. You have to remember that the parents were there, too. What takes more time? Fighting with your child or doing it yourself.

In an effort to rekindle the spark in spunk, Maurici has assigned her students again The Let Grow Project. She is challenging them to push themselves further than their current comfort level. The kids will not let go until they can. They are locked down in a culture afraid of foreigners, fearful of viruses, and scared of being forced to take on any challenge.